Sofia Ashraf: Social justice through music

Contemporary Issues, music education, popular culture, popular music, socio-cultural IssuesNo Comments

You Are Here:, music education, popular culture, popular music, socio-cultural IssuesSofia Ashraf: Social justice through music

Thanks to a post by Jay Smooth, I just learned of Sofia Ashraf, who uses the power of music to address critical issues facing the people of India such as reinterpreting Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda to address environmental justice in Tamil Nadu, India. Check out Kodikanal Won’t:

Given that Ashraf’s Kodikanal Won’t is part of a larger environmental justice campaign, she is receiving some mainstream media attention, such as a recent New York Times article by Robert Mackey. Yet, music educators and many in society are unaware of women hip hop artists who don’t fit within a mainstream music industry context.

In many music education contexts, rap music, hip hop culture, and even more so, women hip hop artists, are excluded from the curriculum. This is a missed opportunity to connect with students and address the role of music from an expansive and inclusive perspective.

In discussing issues of identity and her musical life, Ms. Ashraf explains:

“But melodies eluded me. Rebellious notes kept jumping away from the neat tune I laid out in my head. I had to accept it, I couldn’t sing. But I could still…music. In my attempt to impress my mother, I discovered my love for music. So what if I couldn’t sing or play the piano. I had music inside me. But how do I tell them I did? I tried. It came out as musical prose. Luckily there was a name for it back then—Rap.”

Highlighting musicians such as Sofia Ashraf can be a fantastic starting point for students to explore relationships between rap music (or any other music for that matter) and social justice issues or at the very least using music to address concerns in one’s local community.

Music educators can play an important role in shining a spotlight on women Hip Hop artists who are not given a platform in mainstream news or the music industry. Consider introducing your students to Sofia Ashraf and similar musicians.

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